Ferran Adrià's Roasted Chicken

Francesc Guillamet

By far the most popular recipe from last week's Cook the Book column was Michael Ruhlman's Perfect Roasted Chicken. More of a technique than a recipe, really, its popularity made it clear just how important the dish is. This week we thought we'd tackle another roast chicken recipe, this time from Ferran Adrià's The Family Meal.

Adrià's latest book is inspired by the meals he and his staff shared before the shuttering of the legendary El Bulli restaurant in Spain. These family meals, eaten before the restaurant opened its doors for the evening, were meant to provide Adrià and his crew of 75 enough sustenance for the evening that was equally tasty and efficient. Happily roasted chicken satisfies both of these criteria.

Adrià's roasted chicken is a take on Catalan dish, pollo a l'ast, an herb and lemon rubbed bird, traditionally spit roasted. In this recipe he's made a poultry seasoning blend of dried thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and peppercorns, all ground together and rubbed into a chicken that's also seasoned with salt, lemon zest, and olive oil. Similar to the Ruhlman recipe, this one uses a high heat method of cooking, flipping the chicken midway through.

Once the chicken is cooked though, the skin is a crackling green-gold, full of herbs and little bits of crisp lemon zest. The juices that collected in the bottom of the pan are deglazed with white wine making a simple pan sauce to serve alongside. And like all of the recipes in The Family Meal, this one can be multiplied to easily feed a crowd with barely any more effort on the cook's part.

Adapted from The Family Meal by Ferran Adrià. Copyright © 2011. Published by Phiadon. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved

Recipe Facts



Active: 15 mins
Total: 60 mins
Serves: 6 to 8 servings

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  • 2 whole chickens, 4 1/2 pounds each
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 20 dried bay leaves
  • 3 3/4 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1/3 cup dried thyme
  • 2/3 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons white wine
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Use a pair of strong kitchen scissors to snip off the tips of the wings. Cut off the parson's nose (tail) of the chicken.

  2. Put the chicken in a roasting pan, season inside and out with salt, then rub with oil. Finely grate the lemon zest over the breast and legs.

  3. Cut the lemon into pieces and place inside of the chicken.

  4. Put the bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and peppercorns into a small food processor or blender and process to a fine powder.

  5. Rub the herb mixture over the chicken and push the unpeeled garlic cloves inside the chicken.

  6. Roast the chicken, breast facing down, for 25 minutes.

  7. Turn the chicken over and roast it for another 35 minutes, until golden and cooked through.

  8. Remove the chicken and set aside to rest in a warm place. Place the roasting pan over medium-high heat on the stove top.

  9. Pour in the wine and water, and loosen any sediment with a wooden spoon. Boil the cooking juices, bubbling them down to make a tasty gravy.

  10. Carve the chicken into pieces and place on a serving dish.